On the brink: Water governance in the Yamuna river basin in Haryana

This study attempts to develop a case study of the Western Yamuna Canal Command in Haryana with the purpose of developing a general picture of the institutional environment and arrangements related to water resource development and use in the State of Haryana. It is based on a review of water law, policy and administration and helps draw conclusions on whether the existing governance systems are meeting the current needs and suggests alternate options. The study has attempted to test the following hypothesis –

“Water situation in the Yamuna river basin in the state of Haryana, currently threatened from poor management of surface water, over draft of groundwater, water misuse, waste and pollution, can be improved through better understanding, appropriate policy, regulatory measures and necessary attitudinal change in the users.”

As per the study, the trends in the water sector in the study area and its implications for water governance are –

  • The various sectors like agriculture, industry, drinking water and service sector (housing, tourism and others) put competing demands on canal water supplies and flows. The governance issues include (a) prioritizing and allocating canal water supplies (b) usefulness and impacts of externally aided projects (c) water user associations (d) State Water Plan and (e) equity in water use.
  • Falling water table is caused by unregulated extraction from underground for irrigation, wasteful consumption of available water, free or heavily subsidized power supply, lining of water courses, drying of river bed/channel and water courses, incompatible agricultural practices etc. 
  • The governance issues include conservation of groundwater, less water intensive cropping system/practices, groundwater recharge, flows in river and other water courses, lined water courses including canal/distributary/minors, subsidized power supply etc.
  • The wasteful use of available water is discussed along with the need to have appropriate water and power tariff, legal prohibition on wastage of water, regulation on use of water extraction equipment like submersible pumps, organic agriculture for water conservation, recycle and treatment of used water and conservation of water in educational campaigns.
  • The pauperization of river and the dependent people/life forms is caused by 
    • desiccation and disuse of natural tributaries of river 
    • drying of the river bed in the lean season 
    • encroachment into the river bed by agriculture and human habitation 
    • drinking water schemes for far off towns based on groundwater extracted from river bed/floodplains 
    • pollution from drains falling into the river 
    • disposal of solid waste into the river 
    • sand mining in the river bed and 
    • clearing of natural vegetation and trees from the river side. 
  • The governance issues were highlighted and the study concluded that the overall impact of the above is a looming crisis of fresh water availability and the compromising of human and livestock health in the area of study.

Download the study report here:


Post By: Amita Bhaduri